friday surprise


This popped up in a mature bed and I nearly got rid of it. Sometimes sloth pays. I have no idea what it is, but I see a few of them along the roadside. Guess it must be a native. Ideas? I’m also going to call it my favorite this week, because I love surprises.


Now for a little of this and a little of that. Our neighbor lost this cedar tree in the last big windstorm.


After sawing the greater part of the trunk into logs (there in the background), the rest got ground into chips and those chips got dropped onto our side of the fence (I told you Jim is a great and generous neighbor). Three guesses how I have been spending my time. That prodigious pile of chips means many trips with the wheelbarrow. I don’t think I have ever done quite such a thorough job of mulching.

Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans'

The first Ceanothus to bloom is ‘Blue Jeans’.


Delusional Drive was planned to depend on foliage for year-round interest, but the blue flowers are a welcome seasonal extra.


On the other side of the drive, mounds of Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’ pick up the blue note as a background for ‘Thalia’ and a smattering of other Narcissi.


Get a load of that blue sky. Perfect background for the early (isn’t everything?) blossoms of the pear trees.

The first of the Rhodies to bloom is always PMB. This year is no exception, but the foliage is so ratty looking that the flowers haven’t a chance to make up for it. Instead, I give you ‘Janet’, in all her beauty: from bud:

Rhododendron 'Janet

to budding,


to full blown, all happening at the same time on the same shrub. I hope your Friday held some wonderful surprises as well. Won’t you please tell me about them?


what’s new


I stopped by Means to pick up a little something to plop in a pot and what should I find but this glorious Brugmansia for a mere $1.99. Who could resist such a thing? Not me.

black olive pepper

And yes, I did get this cutie for the aforementioned pot. It’s some kind of a black olive pepper, but you know how it is at Means: great deals but not always the best labeling. We can forgive them that, I think.

Marilyn’s frog

Marilyn is downsizing, so her frog came to live with us…standing in for the real thing, which is heard (mostly in the spring) but seldom seen.

Melianthus major with Carex conica ‘Snowline’

Finally, after several unsuccessful tries, I’ve gotten a transplant of Melianthus major to take hold. A recent trip to Xera turned up these cute little Carex conica ‘Snowline’ to surround it.

Tricyrtis hirta

Just this morning I spotted the first two blooms on Tricyrtis hirta, the common toad lily.

Rosa moysoii geranium

We had a mini nerd night at the Fling. Roger Gossler brought this Rosa moysoii geranium. Those hips got my attention.


Don’t they look swell in the red pot?

Kalanchloe behariensis

Not long ago, Kalanchloe behariensis was featured as my favorite plant. Seemingly overnight, it turned all leggy and gangly. Major surgery was called for.


Out of one came many.


Each has a slightly different personality.


I don’t really need three of these, so at least one of them will probably wind up at a swap.


Last night’s dinner guests came bearing plants, a red achillea and a prostrate rosemary. Bill and Hilda know what I like.


Speaking of guests, this beauty has not been seen in these parts before, so I’m grouping him with all things new. What’s new with you?

hey kids! Means is having a sale!


And when they have a sale, it’s a doozy.


Last year, I was skeptical…but then I rationalized that even if they only lasted a season, full sized specimens at what I would normally pay for annuals were still a bargain. Here it is: one year later and every one of those plants is thriving.


There hasn’t been a lot of exotic stuff this year, but if you’re looking to plant a hedge, or a sweep of grasses, you can do so without breaking the bank.

Rainbow Leucanthoe

For instance, we keep going back for more of this Rainbow Leucanthoe to line a part of the drive.


At $2.99 each you can hardly go wrong.


I was charged with going back for three more and look what happened. I asked about the price of that variegated dogwood and was told it was $49.99…but then he said “you want it? you can have it for $25.” Deal!


While I’m not big on roses, I did like the color of this one, so I’ll tuck it away somewhere and have the stuff of fragrant bouquets.

agaves & yuccas

Come for the sale, but look around the rest of the place while you’re at it. You might be surprised at what you find.

hello June

Delusional Drive

I put the new dark iris here, with Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’ blooming in back. C. ‘Blue Jeans’ blooms earlier, but between the gray skies and the more muted blue of the flowers, it is way less showy.

dark iris close up

Here’s a closer look at that iris in full bloom.

mahogany iris

Down at the other end of Delusional Drive, a mahogany iris (again NOID) shows up nicely against a background of Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’.


On the other side of the drive, foxgloves volunteer en masse.

R. ‘Ebony Pearl’

In Richard’s Berm of Sorrow, so called because he has it crammed with weeping and prostrate plants, Rhododendron ‘Ebony Pearl’ is sprouting shiny new red leaves that will eventually turn the dark color that gives it its name (much preferable to the pink flowers which, thankfully, are fleeting).

Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’

Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’ is working up to a fine showing. Cleo adds a few more stems each year.

Eremurus ‘Ruiter’s Hybrid’

Since Cleo seemed so happy here, I move E. ‘Ruiter’s Hybrid’ to keep her company. This seems to be the sweet spot for these treasures. I’m at least as happy as they are.

Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’

Look at the cute little candy striped bud on the Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ I got from Anna at last year’s swap.


It looked like it would bloom pink, but I should have known to trust Anna.


I wanted to cluster pots out front, but I didn’t want the hassle of grass growing up all around and between them. My solution was to lay down thick layers of newspaper, position the pots and fill in around them with pea gravel.


The orchid-like blooms on the strawberry saxifrage I got from Linda are light and airy.


They quickly filled this big pot. A small Chamaecyparus lawsoniana ‘Somerset’ will have to do some serious growing to hold its own.


Inside, an orchid that has sat unnoticed on a windowsill is proving that neglect is its favorite kind of treatment.

orchid bud

I was thinking that repotting was in order when I noticed a bud. On closer examination I found three more budding stems.


Not one to argue with success, however unearned, I plopped pot and all into this wonderful tin cachepot. Now I can look forward to several months of continuing beauty. These are just a few of the highlights revealed by a stroll in early June. How is June unfolding at your place?

plant gluttony


It all started with a visit to Jockey Hill Nursery, where Michelle babies her plants without any help from nasty stuff like pesticides. I came away with two Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens ‘Glauca’, flanked by two Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’ in the back row. The two pots on the left hold Perovskia ‘Crazy Blue’. The Epimedium rubrum on the left sits next to Epimedium ‘Enchantress’ on the right. In front of them is Iris foetidissima ‘Variegata’. On the right is Senecio greyi. Rounding out the group is Rhypsalis and Aloe maculata.

Bloggers’ Swap plants

Oh my, look at all the plants that came home with me from the bloggers’ plant swap at Jenni’s (more about that later). Back row, left and right, Yucca (sorry, name escapes me at the moment), Cedrus deodora ‘Prostrate Beauty’ and a raspberry. Tucked in at left, Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple’ from Alison and on the right Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ from Heather. Next row: Acorus graminans ‘Ogon’,also from Alison, Libertia peregrinans ‘Bronze Sword’ from Jane, two Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ from Linda, two more of those Acorus and Sedum sieboldii ‘Medio varigatum’, again from Heather, who brashly nicknamed it ‘Clown Whore Sedum’. Front row, left to right: Blueberry Glaze from Loree, two little Euphorbia starts and two golden oregano. In the grand melee that surrounds plant fever, I failed to note the sources of everything I grabbed, so if you see something that came from you, please let me know (thanks, Alison). I always like to give credit where credit is due, not to mention the warm feelings every time I see a gift plant thriving out there. Delusional Drive is filling in nicely, thanks to all these wonderful blogging friends.

I also scored a Pseudopanax ferox at Hortlandia. It’s a strangely wonderful plant and as I carried it to the car not a soul failed to exclaim over it. No pix, as it is small and not very photogenic at this point. I am currently pondering placement as I furiously plant all the other stuff that has come my way. With two gardens to whip into shape (HAH! Like that will ever happen) and the Portland Trail Blazers to cheer and moan over, I’ve been sadly negligent in the blogging and commenting department. This rainy day is good for something.

no foolin’, it’s April

So let’s take a look at what’s been going on around here.

Opuntia ‘Bunny Ears’

This bunny is starting to grow some ears. See that little nubbin? I will be much more careful with this little guy than I was with his mom. He’ll get an outdoor vacation, but will come in come fall.

zinnia seedlings

Most of the seeds I started have yet to put in an appearance, but the zinnias show up in 5 or 6 days. Now that’s what I call encouragement.

Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’

A few of us showed up to help our pal Patricia dig plants. It wasn’t entirely a selfless act. I came home with a nice clump of Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’.

noid tree

And this tree with no name but scads of personality. The consensus was that it is a relative of the Monkey Puzzle Tree. Here’s the update from the always helpful AND knowledgeable Loree of Danger Garden fame: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Auricoriodes’. She supplied additional information, so check out her comment below if you’re interested.

wheelbarrow of transplants

March came through with several sun breaks surrounded by rainy days: perfect transplanting weather. I wrestled the wheelbarrow down into the woods, where I dug up several trilliums, salaal, vancouveria and a ribes to move into the cultivated part of the garden. Not that I have any illusions about my ability to compete with Mother Nature.


The Ribes pop up here and there of their own accord. This is an experiment to see if they take to transplanting.

Dryopteris a cristata ‘The King’ and two Polystichum setiferum

I thought I would try ferns in the wall pocket this year. These come from Cornell Farm, which is way ahead of most places in trotting out a full array of plants. The one at top is dryopteris ‘The King’ and the two below are Polystichum setiferum. The tag says ‘Alaskan’, but these are very different from the Alaskan fern I already have. Anybody know anything about that?

ghost leaves put to use

Remember the ghost leaves left behind by Acanthus sennii? I put some of them to use to adorn a birthday gift, with the addition of a dried Chinese lantern for good measure. Here’s hoping April gets all joking out of her system today and sends us a bumper crop of sunny days to do what we love.

reading at Drake’s 7 Dees

Holy moly, I am so stoked to be doing a reading from BeBop Garden at Drake’s Seven Dees in Raleigh Hills. Their presence at the Yard, Garden and Patio Show last week was nothing short of inspirational. Their store at 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Road, PDX 97225 is well worth a visit. I was there to hear Ann, The Amateur Bot-ann-ist talk about starting seeds. It was a blustery day, but the rain beating on the greenhouse just added to the cozy atmosphere and they had all the goods on hand to go home and put Ann’s excellent advice right to work.

BeBop Garden cover

So if you already have one of my books, bring it for me to sign. I’ll also have books available. I’d love to see you there Saturday, March 8 at 3pm. If you can’t make it, here’s a promise: I will take pictures of the nursery and do a post to lure you to this delightful nursery on one of your next plant-seeking expeditions.


on the deck

Everything still in clay pots made it onto the front deck so that the pots will live to see another season. Also in there are a few things in glazed pots that can stand the cold, but not the wet.

Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’

A few things, like Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’ made it into the ground, where poor Al looks a little lost and forlorn. He is destined to grow big, though…

Sekkan Sugi

so I envision him one day standing out against the dark background of the cedar trees in all his silvery glory, much like the golden Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’, planted in ’04.


I picked all of the dahlias that were in bloom, anticipating that they would turn to mush in the freeze.


Not so. These happy new blooms seem little worse for the cold temps.


I picked all of the Zinnias too. The remaining stems may not make it all the way to new blooms, but we shall see. In the meantime, our house is looking pretty festive.

sea oats and Hydrangeas

Not much continuity here, though, with summery dahlias and zinnias in one part of the house and the fall arrangement of Chasmantium latiflorium and dried ‘Limelight’ Hydrangeas with a few squashes in another.

indoor plants

Richard gets a little panicky when I start moving plants indoor, fearing that it will get claustrophobic.

tucked in a corner

So I left a few things out, incorporated others into existing pots and tucked things into corners here and there. We’re both happy with the results. I hope the plants will be.

one muhly bloom

Wandering around to assess what Jack Frost had wrought, I spotted one lonely little muhly bloom (if you look closely, you can see it against the dark background provided by Sami…she’s an unusually accommodating cat, um, occasionally).

healthiest muhly

It’s not even on the healthiest looking of the three plants I got from Scott of Rhone Street Gardens. I think I can expect a stunning display this time next year.

Kniphofia multiflora

Once again, the Kniphofia multiflora is racing against time.

Kniphofia buds

All of those little buds seem unfazed, so perhaps this year it will make it.

curled tip of Kniphofia

I love the way the tip of the blooming stalk curls over and almost echoes the silhouette of the weeping Sequioia behind it.

strange growth

Strange things are happening out by the compost bins. I’ll close with a plea to all of you knowledgeable observers of nature. Can anyone tell me what this is? I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t try to eat it.

tweaking time

I just spent some time looking through a grab bag of photos. It’s a good time to take stock of what worked, what didn’t and what to do about it. As our friends across the pond might say, “jiggering”.

Buddha’s Hand cosmos

It’s hard to know what to expect when growing something new from seed. The dainty ‘Buddha’s Hand’ Cosmos are not the desired orange, but more golden.

Buddha’s Hand with Leonotis

They peek coquettishly through the base of Leonotis, also grown from seed. The Lion’s Tail grew to mammoth proportions, making it a poor choice for placement towards the front of this new bed.

Lion’s Tail with bronze fennel

It played nicely with the bronze fennel, but eclipsed the ‘Pretty Woman’ trying to assert herself at the bottom of the photo.

after the rain

When the rains came, they flopped, squashing all of those little cosmos. This bed is in for a major overhaul come spring. Most of the offenders are annuals, so no big deal. I chalk it up to “live and learn’.

Nicotiana langsdorfii

Another annual from seed, Nicotiana langsdorfii, performed admirably. It’s one of those see-through plants, with dangling acid-green flowers rising sporadically on tall stems from ground-level rosettes…and it doesn’t try to upstage ‘Pretty Woman’.

Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’

Nor does it obscure Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’ at the back of the bed.

Lion’s Tails in sun

A couple of the ‘Lion’s Tails’ placed in a sunnier location with less water grew to only three feet. Next year, I think I’ll try them along the fence line, where the conditions split the difference. I like them enough to keep trying.

grass in the dry berm

Back in July, the dry berm was being invaded by these annoying grasses.

grass roots

With the help of my trusty screwdriver, I dug deep to remove the roots (well on their way to reaching for China). Now the grasses are back. Maybe not as plentiful as before, but unless I do something they are sure to reestablish their foothold.
When I started this berm, I laid down thick layers of newspaper to smother the grass before piling on the soil mix. I loathe the idea of dismantling and starting from scratch, but a lifelong career of digging out grass roots is not too appealing either. Any suggestions?

Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ roots

All roots are not created equal. The foliage of Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ makes a wonderful filler for bouquets, all the while sprouting roots like crazy. Voila! More little purple shields coming up. Same story with the coleus to the right, but I’ll just replace those with new ones next year.

Heuchera ‘Sashay’

The most interesting feature of Heuchera ‘Sashay’ is the reddish color on the undersides of its leaves. Tucked away in the ground, who knew?

‘Sashay’ in hanging pot

No elevated walls around here to show it off to advantage, but a hanging pot is the next best thing. Once it recovers from transplant shock, I expect a nice glow from those leaves.

Gooseneck loosestrife in sun

Gooseneck loosestrife is famous for going crazy when it is happy, so I put a clump of it where it would get neither the shade nor abundant water it craves. True, it resists running amok, but it also comes off as somewhat anemic.

gooseneck loosestrife in shade

By contrast, in the woodland, the foliage is lush and deep green, showing off those cute little goose heads which I adore. Sometimes a little extra effort to keep things in bounds is well worth it.

monkey puzzle tree

My monkey puzzle tree started out as a mere twig. It is finally beginning to put on significant growth. At Cistus, they have several, and I was taken with the dense plantings crowding around them. Not crowding this close though. Come spring, I’m going to need to find a new spot for that wonderful Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’. How about you? What needs tweaking now that the season is drawing to a close?

September’s split personality

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

We asked for rain, and it came down in buckets. Anything with big trusses, like this Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ was laid low.

Macleaya cordata

Some tall things, like the Macleaya cordata (plume poppy), met a similar fate.

Leonotis nepetifolia

Once standing proudly a good 8′ tall, Leonotis nepetifolia now crouches on the ground. Before I had a chance to get out there and stake them, the flowering tips began to bend upward to reach for the light. Note to self: next year, stake early and stake liberally (yeah, sure…like I’m about to do that).

Lion’s tail

See what I mean? At this point they would look mighty peculiar if I were to stake the bent stems.

Chasmantium latifolium

I actually did stake the Chasmantium latifolium because last year it dipped over into the pond. Live and learn: the stakes need to be taller, with at least two levels of bamboo poles strung between them.


Waterlogged zinnias were dead headed, the plants freshly tied up to existing stakes, and these little flower factories are already pumping out new product.

Hydrangea Preziosa
Hydrangea Preziosa

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’ is turning many shades of dusky hues. Beaten down as it is by the rain, I needn’t hesitate to cut freely and hang the flower heads upside down to dry. I find all kinds of uses for them during the holidays.


The big mopheads fade to even more interesting colors.

Verbena bonariensis

I like the deep purple of the last throes of Verbena bonariensis, but most of them are finally flopping and must be cut back.

So the first week of September was soggy and it seemed that summer had ended with a flash of light and a clap of thunder. Hah! We are into the second week, characterized by temperatures in the 90’s. Our Texas friends laugh condescendingly, but we Oregonians (with a few notable exceptions) wilt and whine in such weather. I am circulating a petition for Indian summer: crisp, sunny days in the 70’s. Are you with me?